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Ladder-backed Woodpecker ♀

Picoides scalaris

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Picoides scalaris, photo © by Michael Plagens

Female. Observed along the Go John Trail at Cave Creek Recreation Area, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA. 24 Nov. 2013. It may be checking for seeds within the dry fruit of a Buck-horn Cholla.

Smallest of the three common woodpeckers in the Sonoran Desert. It is a year-round resident inhabiting mostly low trees and shrubs especially along canyon bottoms and desert washes with trees.

Fine barring of black-and-white on the back. The belly and chest are off-white with variable light spotting. Black and white bars on sides of head. Male has bright red on back of the head.

Year-round Resident

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nest hole of Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Picoides scalaris, photo © by Michael Plagens

Ladder-back adults were actively feeding young in this nest hole drilled into trunk of Mexican Elderberry. Rio Verde, Maricopa Co., Arizona. 21 April 2012.

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 24 November 2013,
updated 5 February 2014